The Story Within

May 3, 2017

Toni Morrison once wrote that “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” I took this message to heart about five summers ago when I spent almost three months recreating the story of my parents life.  I was over 20 chapters deep when I just stopped writing.  I wasn’t sure in which direction I wanted to take the story and what parts of our lives I wanted to reveal so I just put it aside and promised to come back to it.  I never did.

Fast forward to the other day as I was perusing the aisles at Barnes and Noble looking for a book to read and not being intrigued by anything I picked up. I then began to guide my finger down the rows and look for Latino last names because I realized that’s what I was craving…stories about people like me. And more specifically, stories of Hispanic Americans who’ve juggled the balance between honoring their roots while trying to fit into mainstream culture. Which reminded me of why I wanted to tell my parent’s story in the first place; because this world is made up of a variety of cultures with different customs, flavors and histories that make life interesting.

So here I am writing this blog in hopes of getting some inspiration to write again. After going back and reading a few pages of my unfinished book, I said to Alex “this is shit.” I know it’s only natural that through the years you not only grow as a person but your perspective and creativity grows as well but I was still disappointed in what I had written. But Alex assured me that it’s a good thing that I see where I can improve because it means I’ve improved (he’s good like that). Actually, that’s a pretty cool way about looking at life in general… identifying the areas that need work i.e. fitness, relationships, etc. is not a setback but a step in the right direction.

I know we have all been at that place where inspiration leaves us but I’m putting it into the universe so maybe it can find me again.  “It” being the little muse that strikes with creativity and ideas.  I’m also adding an excerpt for my book here because fear is a little monster that tends to keep the muse away. Ideas like ‘you’re not a writer’ or ‘no one wants to read that story’ are not helpful when you are trying to add something to this universe. And to be honest, there will be some who love/hate it but you can’t control what other people think.  For the simple fact that you have created something that expresses your truth is the reward so f- the fear.

Calling all the creatives out there. What do you think? What has been the project/idea that you put aside because of fear?  Have you written a book?  Or do you have a book in you that you’ve put off. There’s a quote by the amazing, Elizabeth Gilbert from her book ‘Big Magic- Creative Living Beyond Fear‘ where she says, “Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say YES.” What treasures are hiding inside you?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

BOOK EXCERPT:

“I think he’s having an affair.”  Sophia sat at the counter of her Aunt Ursula’s store drinking a cup of café con leche.  She took a long slice of buttered bread and dipped it into her coffee. She had been at the store the entire morning helping her with the morning rush of customers.

“Aye, Sophia, you are so paranoid.  Remember last time you thought he was sleeping with the woman in your building?  He was only helping her because her son is handicapped.”  Ursula cleared the dishes off the counter and started to wash them in the sink.

“That was a mistake.  He just doesn’t talk to me.  When I ask him questions, he tells me that I’m too nosy.  What am I suppose to do?” Sophia asked. She played with the cross on her necklace; pulling it from side to side.  She had worn the chain since she was a little girl growing up in Puerto Rico. It was a gift from her mom before she sent her to live in New York with Ursula.

“Tell me why you think this time that he is having an affair?” Ursula refilled Sophia’s cup with more coffee.  “Do you want more milk?” Sophia shook her head.

“He comes home a little later each day. Before he would be home by 3pm.  Yesterday, he was home at 6.  And he runs straight to the bathroom to take a shower.  He usually takes a shower right before he goes to bed.” Ursula turned off the faucet and leaned on the counter.

“What is going on in the bedroom? Is he… normal?” Ursula asked.

“Well, he’s never been a romantic, that’s for sure.  For him, it’s like maintenance for his body. We do it once and awhile to prevent any complications later.  Like getting an oil change on your car.”  Sophia rolled her eyes.

“Well, mija that’s a problem for sure.  I don’t know how you guys were able to make three babies.” Ursula came from around the counter and sat next to Sophia.

“Since you don’t know if there’s a problem in the bedroom, do you have an idea of who it might be?” Ursula asked. Her presence was striking.  She stood almost six feet tall with dark, oily skin.  Her bone structure was thick and strong like a man, but her features were feminine.  She always wore her hair-dyed blonde and pulled tightly back in a bun with nothing but maronne lipstick to color her face.

“It’s hard to tell but I think it’s someone that goes to our church.  She doesn’t live in the neighborhood, I don’t think, but I see her every Sunday.  You know, Marcelo, he knows everyone but he says hi to her and he never did before.  I don’t think she’s involved with the church so I don’t know how they met.”

Ursula adjusted herself on the chair and grabbed for a napkin to wipe her forehead.

“First of all, the only thing you should be thinking about in church is Papa Dios.” Ursula made the sign of the cross and paused for a second.  “Secondly, does it really matter who he talks to?  I mean, he eventually comes home every night and he provides for you and the girls. That’s more than I got out of Roberto and we were married for over 20 years.” Ursula patted Sophia’s hand.

“It matters to me, Titi Ursula. My girls are now teenagers.  If I notice something maybe they have.  I would be so embarrassed.”

“Ay, Sophia, you have only seen him saying hello to this woman.  Stop it, right now.” Ursula grabbed both of Sophia’s hands. “Your mind has always been so busy.  When you were a little girl, you would tell me that there were alligators in your shoes because you only wanted to wear sandals. After awhile you started to believe your own lie and I would shake your shoes to prove to you that they were safe to wear.”  Sophia laughed and stood up from her chair.

“I know that my mind wanders, but my heart is usually right.  I just have a feeling.”  Sophia kissed Ursula on the cheek.  “I have to get home to the girls.  “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

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